On Tuesday, Portugal. The Man‘s John Gourley woke up to more than 100 unread texts. “It was too much,” the Portland-by-way-of-Alaska native tells Billboard. He had completely forgotten that the Grammy nominations were being announced, and for the first time ever in the indie-rock band’s decade-spanning career, they were nominated.
“It’s just so cool that so many people care this much about the Grammys, and care so much about music,” Gourley says. “[The Grammys] are something that everyone is aware of. This isn’t just in our little bubble of social media; this is so much bigger than that.”
Portugal. The Man, which is up for best pop duo/group performance, has had a knockout year with its breakthrough crossover hit “Feel It Still.” The track served as the lead single off the band’s equally stellar eighth LP Woodstock and also flung open the door for the group to enter into the mainstream. The song recently broke the record for most weeks at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Alternative Songs airplay chart, as it logged its 20th week at the top (dated Dec. 9) and comfortably sits within the top 10 on the Hot 100.
“Getting nominated for a Grammy is as high as it gets for us,” Gourley said (his daughter told him, “Dad, we already won”). “Just being acknowledged is such a huge win — I want to keep the ball rolling. Seeing [our success] makes me want to work harder, push harder.”
Gourley’s full-speed-ahead attitude can be traced back to his family’s Alaskan work ethic. He recalls calling his parents to share the good news and admits “we’re not super sentimental people.” He says their general reaction was expectedly normal: “It’s so perfectly Alaska to be like, ‘Dad we’re going to the Grammys,’ and for him to be like, ‘Oh, well that’s great, Johnny. All right, gotta go back to work.’ I think that’s the best reaction to it.
“’Feel It Still’ did really well,” Gourley added, “and as much as everybody wants to tell you to live in the moment and just be happy that you’re nominated and be happy with the success of the song, anybody who wants to work on their craft and get better at it is going to say, ‘Huh, I better start working on my next song.'”
The 60th Grammy Awards are set for Sunday, Jan. 28, airing live on CBS from Madison Square Garden in New York City.